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Kandiyohi County to take over Glacial Lakes State Trail crossing over Crow River

A cooperative agreement between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Kandiyohi County has the county constructing the crossing for the Glacial Lakes State Trail across the Crow River, adjacent to County Road 40 near New London. The state will transfer more than $300,000 to the county to pay for the work.

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The first half of the Glacial Lake State Trail expansion project, a new paved trail in Sibley State Park, pictured in November 2021, that connects the park to U.S. Highway 71 has been substantially completed. The next phase is a 3-mile trail from Highway 71 to New London, alongside Kandiyohi County Road 40. Kandiyohi County, in a cooperative agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, has agreed to construct the trail crossing over the Crow River. Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

NEW LONDON — Kandiyohi County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are continuing to work together to complete the Glacial Lakes State Trail expansion project — a project which will connect the city of New London, and the state trail, to Sibley State Park.

In a cooperative agreement between the two parties, approved by the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners on Dec. 21, the county is taking the lead on constructing the needed Crow River trail crossing.

"It is one more step toward completing this trail," said Mel Odens, county Public Works director and county engineer.

The DNR will complete all the design work for the project, while the county will construct it, according to the agreement. The state will transfer $300,000 in state bonding funds to the county to pay for the construction. Odens said the plan is to construct the crossing, which will be made by extending two box culverts that already cross the river, this summer.

"It seems like it makes a lot of sense" to have the county do this work, Odens said.

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The Glacial Lakes State Trail is located along what once was a BNSF Railway grade. The trail goes from Willmar to Cold Spring. Approximately 22 miles of the trail is paved from Willmar to the Kandiyohi/Stearns County line. There is also another 7.5 miles paved between Roscoe and Cold Spring.

The trail extension has been in the works for several years. Prior to the expansion project, Sibley State Park was connected to the trail, along Minnesota Highway 23, by three miles of paved shoulder along Kandiyohi County Road 148. The trail received $2.6 million in state bonding money in 2017 , on top of the $1.6 million awarded in 2014, to fund the extension.

The first three miles of the 6.5-mile extension , which travels through the state park to U.S. Highway 71, has been substantially completed. The next three miles will take the trail from Highway 71 to New London, as a separate paved pathway alongside Kandiyohi County Road 40. Private property was purchased for the pathway.

The cooperative agreement with the DNR and county will make more work for Odens and his team. However, the agreement also shows the high esteem the state has for Odens and Kandiyohi County Public Works, County Administrator Larry Kleindl said.

"This really goes to show the respect Mel's department has from the state," Kleindl said.

The agreement was approved unanimously by the County Board. Commissioner Roger Imdieke said the Sibley State Park Improvement Association is on board with the agreement.

"I think it is a great deal," Imdieke said.

The hope is the trail extension will be a benefit for both the state park and New London, as walkers and bikers will be able to easily travel between the two. It could bring additional economic benefit to the city, as visitors eat at restaurants and shop at the stores.

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"This is a real benefit for the citizens of Kandiyohi County," Kleindl said. "This is really a no-brainer."

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The proposed 3-mile trail extension will go from U.S. Highway 71 into New London. The trail will need to traverse wetlands and the Crow River. Kandiyohi County will be building a crossing, built of box culverts, over the waterway. Contributed / Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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